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10 Common Small Business Website Mistakes You May Be Making in 2024 – Part 2

For small business owners, your website is more than just a digital storefront—it’s the very first handshake with future customers. Ensuring this vital first impression is not only visually appealing but also user-friendly is paramount to your success. 

Our last article [link to it] covered 5 common mistakes that small businesses make with:

  • Navigation
  • Pop-ups
  • Website load time
  • Responsive design
  • Jargon

If you haven’t read it yet, check it out here.

Let’s explore our final 5 tips on how to keep your digital welcome mat inviting and free from the usual slip-ups that can deter potential business.

Mistake 6: Keeping Your Website a Secret From Search Engines

Imagine you’ve got this super cool clubhouse, but you didn’t tell anyone how to find it. It’s got all the best games, snacks, and comfy chairs, but if nobody knows where it is or that it even exists, what’s the point? 

Your website is kind of like that clubhouse. 

You could have the best services or products, but if you’re not making it easy for search engines (like Google) to find you, you’re basically invisible online.

So, how do you send out a digital map to your site? 

It’s called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. This isn’t about tricking Google with magic words but more like using the right keywords that match what people are searching for and having the right website structure

For example, if you’re a lawyer specializing in family law, you want to make sure your website talks about things like “family lawyer,” “divorce help,” or “child custody advice” because that’s what people will type into Google when they need a lawyer like you.

If you ignore SEO, it’s like putting up a “Closed” sign on your website. You might as well be invisible. But when you pay attention to SEO, you’re putting up a big, flashy “Open for Business” sign that guides customers right to your door. 

And who doesn’t want that?

Mistake 7: Forgetting to Tell Your Website Visitors What to Do Next With A Clear Call To Action (CTA)

Picture this: You’re at a super cool amusement park with all these awesome rides, but there are no signs. You’d probably wander around a bit, feel confused, and might even leave without trying the best rides. 

That’s what happens when your website doesn’t have clear signs—or in website speak, a clear call-to-action (CTA).

A call-to-action is like that big, red button that says “Press Me!” It’s your way of telling visitors exactly what you want them to do next. 

Whether it’s “Buy Now,” “Sign Up,” or “Contact Us,” your CTA is your website’s way of guiding visitors to the next step. Without it, they might just wander off.

Think about what you want visitors to do most on your site. If you’re selling something cool, your biggest button might say “Add to Cart.” If you’re a lawyer, maybe you want them to fill out a form for a free consultation. That’s your CTA. Make it big, bold, and easy to find.

Also, don’t clutter your site with too many CTAs. If you do, it’s like a tour guide shouting directions at you from all directions. 

You wouldn’t know where to go first, right? 

Stick to one or two main actions you want people to take, and make those buttons impossible to miss.  Choose a contrasting color for your CTAs to really make them stand out.

Remember, your website isn’t just there to look pretty. It’s there to guide your visitors somewhere – like making a purchase, learning more about your services, or getting in touch with you.

If you’re not clear about what you want them to do, they might not do anything at all.

Mistake 8: Using Blurry or Low-Quality Pics

Ever scrolled through social media and seen a picture that was so blurry, you couldn’t even tell what it was supposed to be? 

Kind of a letdown, right? 

The same goes for your website. If you use pictures that are blurry, too small, or just plain bad quality, it’s not a good look. It’s like showing up to a job interview in a wrinkled shirt and flip-flops. People might not take you seriously.

Think about it: Your website is like your online storefront. The images you use are like the window display. You want everything to look sharp, inviting, and professional. 

That’s why picking the right pictures is super important. 

They need to be clear, high-quality, and they should make sense with what you’re talking about. If you’re a bakery, show off those cupcakes in all their mouth-watering glory. If you’re a photographer, your pictures need to be top-notch, showing off your skills.

But remember, the pictures you use should do more than just look pretty. They should tell a story about who you are and what you do. A great image can grab people’s attention and even help explain things better than words sometimes. 

So, take a bit of time to choose the right ones. It’s like picking the perfect outfit for a first date. You want to make a good impression!

Mistake 9: Letting Your Website Collect Metaphorical Dust

Ever visited a company’s profile only to see their last post was from 2017? You might wonder if they’re still around or what they’re up to these days. 

It’s the same deal with websites. 

If someone lands on your site and the last update was ages ago, they might think, “Hmm, is this place still in business?” 

Keeping your website fresh is like keeping your social media profiles lively. It shows you’re open, active, in the game, and ready to engage.

Here’s another thing: Google and other search engines are always on the lookout for fresh content. 

When they see that you’re regularly updating your site, they think, “Hey, this site is alive and kicking. Let’s show it to more people.” This could mean better spots in search results.

Updating your site isn’t just about adding new products or services (though that’s important, too). It’s also about refreshing your blog posts, changing up images, or even just tweaking your homepage now and then. It shows visitors and search engines alike that you’re keeping things up-to-date and that you care about providing a good experience.

And don’t worry; you don’t have to overhaul your site every month. 

Small, regular updates are like watering a plant—a little bit consistently can help it grow big and strong. So, whether it’s sharing news about your business, adding tips or insights in your blog, or just updating photos, keep your website’s content fresh. It’ll make a great impression on both visitors and Google, keeping your site in the spotlight and getting clicks!

Mistake 10: Skipping the Safety Gear for Your Website

Imagine surfing the internet like riding a bike. 

Now, what if I told you that not having a secure website is like riding that bike downhill without a helmet? Sounds risky, right? That’s because it is. 

Your website needs something called an SSL certificate to keep everyone’s data safe—kind of like how a helmet protects your head.

When a website has an SSL certificate, it’s like having a secret code. Anything people do on your site, like shopping or filling out forms, gets scrambled into a code that only you can understand. It keeps hackers from sneaking a peek at private info like addresses or credit card numbers. Without it, you’re telling your customers, “Hey, it’s okay to ride this bike without a helmet.” 

Not cool.

Here’s the kicker: Google, the apex of search engines, is now checking if sites are secure before showing them in search results. That means your website might not show up as easily when people are searching for stuff online. It’s Google’s way of making sure everyone plays it safe on the internet playground.

So, how do you get this magical SSL certificate? 

It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Often, your website host can set you up with one. It’s a simple step that tells everyone, “We take safety seriously around here.” Plus, it keeps Google happy, which is always a good thing. 

Make sure your website is wearing its helmet. Safety first, folks!

What To Do Next…

Wrapping up our digital deep dive, let’s remember that your website is essentially your online handshake. 

It’s the first, and sometimes the only, impression potential customers will have of your business. 

So, it makes all the difference to ensure that this virtual greeting is as warm, inviting, and effective as possible. Avoiding the common pitfalls we’ve talked about is key to keeping your digital doors open and reaching your business goals.

First off, clear navigation and a speedy, mobile-friendly site aren’t just nice-to-haves; they’re must-haves in today’s fast-paced, smartphone-dominated world. Every element of your site, from the words you choose to the images you showcase, should tell your story in a way that’s easy to understand and engage with. 

Remember, the goal is to make visitors feel at home and ready to explore what you have to offer, leading them gently but firmly to the action you want them to take, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or reaching out for more information.

Lastly, keeping your content fresh and your website’s security tight shows your customers that you’re not just open for business, but you’re also a reliable, trustworthy partner in this digital journey. As the online world continues to evolve, so should your website. Regular updates, attention to SEO, and ensuring your site is a safe place for visitors will help your business stand out in a crowded digital marketplace. 

So take these tips, tweak your digital strategy, and watch as your website becomes your best salesman ever.

Need help implementing any of the tips above? Contact IFTS to set up a free consultation.  Just send si@iftsdesign.com an email with the subject line “Free Consult”.

10 Common Small Business Website Mistakes You Might Be Making in 2024 – Part 1

For small business owners, your website is more than just a digital storefront—it’s the very first handshake with future customers. Ensuring this vital first impression is not only visually appealing but also user-friendly is paramount to your success. 

However, it’s all too easy to fall into pitfalls that could send your visitors running before they’ve even had the chance to browse. 

Let’s explore our first 5 tips on how to keep your digital welcome mat inviting and free from the usual slip-ups that can deter potential business.

Mistake 1 - Not Having Clear Navigation

Imagine walking into a vast store with no signs, unclear sections, and a maze-like layout. 

Frustration would likely guide your steps out of the door rather than towards a purchase. This is precisely the effect a website with poor navigation has on your potential customers. Your digital presence needs to be as welcoming and as easy to navigate as a well-organized physical store.

Clear, intuitive navigation ensures that visitors can effortlessly find the information they’re seeking without guesswork or backtracking. This involves having a straightforward menu, logical flow from one page to another, and well-defined sections. 

Consider incorporating breadcrumbs on your pages so users can easily trace their steps back without hitting the dreaded “back” button too many times.

Additionally, a search function becomes invaluable for sites with a lot of content, allowing users to bypass navigation to directly find specific information. Remember, the goal is to reduce the effort required by your visitors to get from point A (arrival) to point B (the information, service or product they’re interested in). 

Making this journey as smooth as possible not only enhances user experience but also significantly increases the likelihood of conversion, be it a sale, a sign-up, or an inquiry.

Mistake 2: The Pop-Up Predicament - Striking the Right Balance

While pop-ups have earned their stripes in the digital marketing world for their ability to capture attention and convert leads, there’s a fine line between being effectively persuasive and annoyingly invasive. 

Overloading your site with pop-ups is akin to a salesperson following your every step in a store, bombarding you with offers before you’ve even had a chance to look around. This overwhelming approach can ruin the user experience, prompting visitors to leave your site.

Pop-ups should be used sparingly and strategically. 

They are most effective when they offer genuine value to the visitor.  Examples of this can include: 

  • exclusive discounts
  • sign-up bonuses
  • timely alerts about promotions

The key is relevance and timing. 

For instance, exit-intent pop-ups, which appear when a user is about to leave your site, can be a last-ditch effort to engage them without disrupting their browsing experience from the get-go.

Moreover, it’s critical to ensure that your pop-ups are mobile-friendly. A pop-up that covers the entire screen on a mobile device, with a tiny, elusive “close” button, is always frustrating to your visitors. Always test your pop-ups across different devices and browsers to ensure they enhance, rather than hinder, the user experience.

By treating your visitors’ attention with respect and using pop-ups judiciously, you can maintain a positive user experience while still leveraging the conversion-boosting power of pop-ups.

Remember, the goal is to make visitors feel welcomed and valued, not overwhelmed.

Mistake 3: The Need for Speed - Why Website Load Time Matters

In the fast-paced digital age, time is of the essence, and patience is a dwindling commodity. Your website’s loading speed isn’t just a technical metric; it’s the first impression you make on a visitor. A slow website is like a sluggish greeting at the door, likely to turn guests away before they’ve even had a chance to explore. 

Research shows that visitors expect websites to load in two seconds or less, and with every additional second, the likelihood of them bouncing skyrockets.

A sluggish website doesn’t just frustrate potential customers; it also sends a negative signal to search engines, affecting your site’s search ranking and visibility. This can affect both your traffic and conversion rates, lowering them drastically.

Some easy ways to optimize your website’s speed includes: 

  • compressing images
  • leveraging browser caching
  • minimizing the use of redirect links
  • choosing a reliable hosting service

It’s also wise to regularly test your website’s speed using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to identify and rectify any issues that could be slowing it down.

Remember, your website’s speed reflects your brand’s efficiency and commitment to providing a positive user experience. By ensuring your site loads swiftly, you’re not just keeping your visitors happy; you’re also boosting your chances of ranking higher in search results, leading to more visibility and, ultimately, CUSTOMERS.

Mistake 4: Underestimating the Power of Responsive Design

Imagine you’re trying to visit a website on your phone, but everything looks weird or you can’t click on things properly. That’s because the website wasn’t made to work well on phones or tablets, just on bigger computer screens. This mistake is like forgetting to invite half of your friends to your birthday party – you miss out on having them there!

Nowadays, almost everyone uses their phones to go online, so if your website only works on computers, you’re missing out big time. It’s like showing up to a scooter race with a bicycle – you’re just not prepared. About 9 out of 10 websites now make sure they look good on both phones and computers. If yours doesn’t, it’s time to catch up.

Why does this matter so much? 

Well, websites that work well on any device, like phones or tablets, are more likely to make visitors happy. Happy visitors are more likely to do what the website wants, like buy something or sign up for more information. In fact, when websites are easy to use on phones, businesses usually sell more.

A lot of people use their phones to browse the internet. In fact, more than half of the time people spend online is on their phones. But, a lot of people also say they’ve been to websites that were hard to use on their phone. That’s a big no-no because it can make visitors feel like the business doesn’t care about them.

Also, if your website isn’t easy to use on a phone, a lot of people might decide not to come back. Think about it – if you find a cool site that’s hard to use on your phone, you might just go find another site that’s easier to handle.

Mistake 5: Talking Like a Textbook Instead of a Friend

Ever talked to someone who sounds like they swallowed a dictionary? 

Not fun, right? 

The same goes for websites. When you’re trying to share what you do or sell, using a bunch of fancy words might seem smart, but it can actually push people away. 

Imagine you’re looking for a lawyer, and you land on a site filled with terms like “litigation,” “jurisprudence,” or “amicus curiae.” You’d probably feel like you need a law degree just to understand what they’re saying!

Here’s the deal: You want your website to be like a friendly chat over coffee, not a lecture. 

Let’s say you’re a lawyer trying to explain your services. 

Instead of saying, “We specialize in the facilitation of amicable resolutions in matrimonial dissolution proceedings”…

You could say, “We help couples go through divorce smoothly and friendly.” 

See the difference? The second one is way easier to understand and feels more personal.

Why does this matter? 

Well, when people visit your website, they’re often looking for help or answers. If they have to pull out a dictionary to understand what you’re saying, they’re likely to leave immediately. But if you talk to them in clear, simple language, they’ll feel more welcome and understood.

Remember, the goal of your website is to connect with your visitors, not to show off how many big words you know. Keep it simple, speak like a human, and you’ll build a stronger connection with your audience.

Stay Tuned for Mistakes 6-10 In Our Next Article!

So take these tips, tweak your digital strategy, and watch as your website becomes your best salesman ever.

Our next article will cover mistakes 6 through 10, which will cover:

  • SEO
  • CTAs
  • Image quality
  • The importance of updates
  • SSLs

Need help implementing any of the tips above?

Contact IFTS to set up a free consultation.  Just send si@iftsdesign.com an email with the subject line “Free Consult”.

Boosting Your Painting Company’s Visibility: The Essential Guide to SEO

Attracting Targeted Traffic with SEO

For painting companies, attracting homeowners, real estate developers, and commercial property managers who are actively searching for painting services is key. 

SEO allows you to optimize your website with specific keywords related to painting services, such as “residential painting,” “commercial painting services,” or “eco-friendly painting solutions.” By identifying and incorporating these keywords throughout your site, you can increase your chances of appearing in relevant search queries, directly leading potential customers to your website.

Establishing Industry Authority Through Informative Content

Creating informative, valuable content is pivotal for painting companies aiming to establish authority. 

For instance, blog posts on topics like “Choosing the Right Paint for Your Space,” “Trends in Interior Painting,” or “How to Prepare for a Professional Painting Job” can position your company as a knowledgeable and trustworthy service provider.

Blogs can also play a secondary role in your business by being instruction manuals that you send to your clients.  As an example, when you send an appointment reminder email, you could also send a link to the “How to Prepare for a Professional Painting Job” article so they know what to do before you get there.

Consistently publishing high-quality content not only helps in building credibility but also in enhancing your website’s SEO.  It does this by incorporating relevant keywords and engaging potential customers.

Enhancing The Overall User Website Experience

A well-optimized website offers a seamless user experience, crucial for keeping potential clients engaged and on your site. It also keeps them AWAY from your competitors.

For painting companies, this means having a visually appealing, easy-to-navigate website that showcases your work, services, and customer testimonials/reviews. Ensure that your site is mobile-friendly, as a significant portion of users access the internet via smartphones. 

An intuitive, responsive design can lead to longer visits and reduced bounce rates, positively impacting your SEO rankings.

SEO Strategies Specifically for Painting Companies

To effectively improve your painting company's SEO, consider the following strategies:

Local SEO Optimization

Since painting services are often sought locally, optimizing your website for local search is crucial. Claim your Google My Business listing, include local keywords (e.g., “painting services in [City]”), and ensure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information is consistent across all online platforms.

Keyword Research

Conduct thorough keyword research to understand what potential clients are searching for. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can help identify industry-specific keywords with high search volume.

Optimizing Website Meta Tags and Content

Incorporate your target keywords into meta titles, descriptions, and throughout your website’s content. This includes service pages, blog posts, and even image alt tags.

Showcasing Your Portfolio with Before and Afters

Use your website to showcase your best work. A gallery of high-quality, before-and-after photos of your projects can not only enhance your site’s visual appeal but also improve SEO by keeping visitors engaged longer.

Building Quality Backlinks

Earn backlinks from reputable sites within the home improvement or local business community. Guest posting on relevant blogs or participating in local community events can increase your website’s authority and improve its search engine ranking.

Staying Ahead of Your Competition Through SEO

SEO is an ever-evolving field, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices is essential to more leads and less competition.

For painting companies, this means: 

  • regularly updating your website with fresh content, 
  • monitoring your search engine rankings, and 
  • adapting your SEO strategy to accommodate new search engine algorithms. 

Additionally, engaging with your audience through social media and online forums can boost your online presence and drive more traffic to your website.

What’s Next?

For painting companies looking to thrive in the competitive digital landscape, SEO is not just an option; it’s a necessity. 

By implementing the strategies outlined above, you can improve your website’s search engine rankings, attract more targeted traffic, and establish your brand as an authority in the painting industry. Remember, the key to successful SEO is consistency, quality, and staying abreast of the latest digital marketing trends.

To further reinforce the points made, consider the insights from Moz’s “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” and Search Engine Journal’s “SEO Checklist.” These resources offer valuable tips and strategies that can be applied specifically to painting companies, ensuring that your SEO efforts are both effective and industry-relevant.

By dedicating time and resources to SEO, your painting company can achieve greater visibility, attract more clients, and ultimately drive significant business growth. Embrace SEO as a pivotal component of your digital marketing strategy and watch your painting business reach new heights.

Want a shortcut to getting this all done for you?  Check out Painter Marketing 365 from IFTS, Inc!